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So long, Buster: looking after a pet in your will

Pet, dog

Many Australians consider their furry, feathered or scaled friend family, so why wouldn’t they be recognised in a will?

According to the RSPCA, there are 4.8 million pet dogs in Australia. That’s about 20 dogs for every 100 people. There’s also estimated to be 3.9 million pet cats, 4.2 million pet birds and 2.5 million other pets like horses, rabbits, reptiles and guinea pigs.

To the head of estate planning at Omniwealth Law Danielle Radomyski, it’s easy to overlook pets when writing up wills.

“We all presume we will outlive our pets, but what if you don’t?” she asked.

As animals are classed as property, a will maker will have to give them away rather than appoint a guardian, Ms Radomyski explained.

With this in mind, it’s critical that the will maker gives the pet to an appropriate person or organisation.

Additionally, it’s not possible to leave a bequest to pet. Instead, money must be left to the carer to cover the pet’s expenses.

Ms Radomyski said there are four main ways to do this:

1.       Grant the money to the carer with a non-binding request that they care for Fluffy, Smokey or Spot;

2.       Leave the money to a charity in exchange for the charity’s care of your pet;

3.       Set up a trust fund for your pet’s expenses;or

4.       As you won’t know how long your pets will outlive you, an annual sum tied to the consumer price index could be left, payable to the carer for each year of the pet’s life.

“The key is preparing a thorough pet budget of how much to leave to the carer,” Ms Radomyski concluded.

So long, Buster: looking after a pet in your will
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